Wan-Yi Sweeting was SIDE's Academic Dux for 2012. She wrote this letter just after graduating.
I am really honoured to have been selected as the winner of the 2012 Dux award. I couldn’t have managed without the wonderful support of my teachers and supervisors.
I came to Australia at the age of 11, as I had been awarded a scholarship to St Marys Anglican Girls’ School as a boarding student. This suited me well as it provided me with a balance of academic studies and sporting activities.
After 2 years, I was selected on a full time basis at the WA Tennis Academy. At this stage, I joined SIDE so that I could fit my academic studies around my demanding tennis schedule. Ever since then it has been pretty much a roller coaster ride. I have had a number of different coaches in various countries and have been playing tennis tournaments around the world, including Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Croatia, California, Paris, Canada, South America… It’s been non-stop!
Throughout my tennis journey, SIDE has been there with me. In many ways, they acted as a life saver, especially when I felt lonely and homesick (or if I had lost a tennis match!). Most of the time, I was able to keep regular contact with my teachers (through the SIDE online classes called Centra). It was great to discuss my studies and generally have a chat with my tutors to let them know how I was getting on. They were always very interested and happy to support in any way they could.
However, in some places, such as India and Croatia, internet connections were very difficult and I had to struggle with my school work on my own (I even had to teach myself Calculus, but not very well!!). SIDE were very understanding and allowed me to take extra time to complete my studies, which helped me greatly as my tennis schedule became more and more demanding. At one stage, I injured my back quite badly and was very fortunate to join an academy in California, which helped me in my recuperation and enabled me to catch up with my studies.
I have learnt a lot from distance learning, especially self-discipline, organisation skills, time management and perseverance. I now know that if I set my mind on something and keep working towards that goal, I can achieve it. I am pleased to tell you, for example, that I have been awarded a tennis scholarship at Boston College, one of the top academic universities in the USA, with a division I tennis team. Thank you SIDE, I could not have done this without you!